Here’s the honest truth: ‘I hate hurricanes’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 28, 2008

By Kevin Chiri

I hate hurricanes.

Plain and simple, ever since Katrina, I have to say that I honestly detest these storms now.

I was probably like a lot of people before Katrina.

A hurricane maybe coming here? Hey, that actually sounded kind of fun. You know, lots of wind blowing here and there, big thunderstorms. You get to stay bundled up in your house with your honey by your side.

Fun, right?

Come on and admit it, many people actually used to think that. And I suppose there are still some people who might think that now—even after Katrina—for some strange reason.

But for me, ever since Katrina, I am done with even any idea of a hurricane having anything to do with fun. And I have a feeling the vast, vast majority of my readers have to agree with me.

So the mere mention earlier this week of some storm brewing down in the Caribbean, which might be heading into the Gulf of Mexico by the end of this week, put me into a foul mood.

After what we all went through three years ago, I don’t think a one of us has anything left in us to truly deal with another big storm.

I can remember certain aspects about the post-Katrina time, and it truly gives me a feeling of heavy anxiety.

Here at L’Observateur, I was the guy who had to lead the way as we tried to figure out a way to keep our business afloat, and how we could still keep the operation going.

Somehow we managed. We missed only one regular edition of the paper, and by Saturday after the storm, we had L’Observateur back on the streets.

But believe me, it was not easy.

The first edition of the paper was done by myself and I believe about two other people. Then I had to drive it to our sister paper in New Iberia, where they printed it while I took a nap in the front office, before I drove the paper back here for distribution. I remember many a long, bumpy road taking the old U.S. 90 highway from New Iberia, down through Thibodaux, and looping back up cross the Mississippi River bridge, to make it back to LaPlace.

That went on for a while since our regular press in Bogalusa was out of operation without any power. It was a grueling few weeks and I don’t care to go through it again.

Add to that our own personal challenges of helping my mother and my wife’s father, who both lived in St. Tammany Parish and had tragic situations with their homes, and we were right in there with the rest of you facing some difficult times from the storm.

So don’t take it personally if I say something rather unpleasant when someone says, “hey, did you hear about that storm brewing in the Gulf?”

It’s really not personal. I’ve just had my fill of storms for the rest of my days, as I’m sure the majority of you have to agree.

 On to more pleasant things to talk about, I had a nice time this past week when I stopped by the Southeast Louisiana War Veteran’s Home for their first annual luau.

The activity directors at the home do a great job keeping things lively over there, but the luau was obviously one of their best events ever at the home.

The place was packed with the vets there, and plenty of relatives, while a two-person band from New Orleans, “Glitter and Gold,” put on some great music entertainment with some oldie, but goodie, songs.

Taking all my pictures as I do, I ended up talking a bit with Emile and Gerry Hotard from Reserve.

Got an interesting story from Gerry, who told me that her husband was only temporarily in the home since he had broken his femur. As it goes, Emile was one of the volunteers who worked long and hard to help ensure the Vet’s Home was built here in St. John. Still in good health now at age 85, he didn’t figure he would be needing the home anytime soon.

But now, due to some physical problems of his own, he has had to take advantage of the services there.

Gerry told me that the home couldn’t be better, if it happens to be a place you, or a loved one, has to go. And as many times as I have been there and seen how things operate, I know she is telling it like it is.

Emile was a 41 year Naval Reserve veteran who was active during World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Now at 85, he is trying to take it a little bit easy, which sounds like he deserves it since he also worked for many years in St. John school administration here in the parish.

A big salute to you Emile, and all the other vets on hand this week at the home!

Kevin Chiri is Publisher of L’Observateur and can be reached at (985) 652-9545 or at